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The Graffiti Art Movement

The Graffiti Art Movement

The featured image (note to subscribers; hit the highlighted post title in the email you receive to take you to my blog so you can see the image) was taken during the graffiti art tour of Buenos Aires. Did you know there is world wide interest in graffiti?  From its beginnings in New York City subways in the 1960s, illegal writing and painting on walls in public places has been infused with new energy from middle and upper middle class artists everywhere. Graffiti is still illegal most places, unless  you own the building and invite yourself or another artist to  create a mural on it.  The movement starts in seedy parts of cities  with large public squares, warehouses and the like that are poorly policed. Then the starving artist community and gays gravitate to the art and start sprucing up the neighborhood and pretty soon it is no longer seedy, but a draw, housing prices go up, abandoned warehouses become sleek condos and the wall art is seen no longer as graffiti but first rate art. I certainly witnessed that in DC!

Note in the featured image that the woman’s face is reproduced on the other side of the door and as you turn the corner you see:

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The owner of the house is also the artist, complete with his signature.  There is always the risk that someone in the dead of night will come and paint over your work!  Sometimes for the better:

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The original artist painted the monkeys without hats. He lived in the neighborhood and one day was out walking his dog and saw someone had edited his work.  He decided he liked the red hat addition.

There is such variety in street art. Elegant, whimsical, poignant, frankly sexual or heartbreaking:

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On many walls in this neighborhood is the writing of a father who is under a restraining order to his children he is no longer able to see. It reads, ” my beautiful Catita and Thomas, I love you.  Papa”

Around the corner is a gay nightclub which greets the onlooker with a three story portrait.  The jewelry is not painted but added later and secured with metal rods attached to the building:

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Below is the symbol of the Mothers of the Disappeared and is permanently stamped multiple times in the Plaza de Majo where the mothers and grandmothers of the disappeared children  have walked in silence since the 1980s.  From 1973-1986, Argentina  was under the rule of a military dictatorship, during a reign known as The Dirty War. Untold thousands of people were taken from their homes, never to be heard from again. The Mothers gained international attention for their peaceful drawing attention to repulsive human rights deprivation. They were allowed to assemble because they did not yell protests but used only their power as Mothers, who are revered in Argentina, to show their anguish over their children taken away. Each walks silently, wearing a diaper of her child tied around her head.

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This graffiti artist used spray paint but needed a very tall ladder to  reach the top of this building.


  1. Ouida Tomlinson

    11 January

    I enjoyed this post and reading about graffiti art which is fascinating. Many statements about the society and the times are made through this art. Thanks for posting.

    • tarpley

      12 January

      Indeed Grafitti art does reflect the times, Ouida. Too bad much of it gets painted over because then some history gets lost! I expect to find a lot more in Chile.

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